My Dear Democracy

I hope you kiss the banks of Jehlum!

For last more than six decades we claim to be in a democracy. How far this assertion is true only historians will unravel this illusionary myth? But undoubtedly in the year 1947 we were set free from the clutches of autocratic rule of Maharaja. We are all indebted to those sincere and altruistic leaders who facilitated liberation of this suppressed nation and should always remember and salute our unsung heroes who laid their precious life to safeguard our lives and honour. In 1947 whole of Indian subcontinent attained freedom from the British with a hope to usher into an era of emancipation, empowerment and absolute societal equality. Kashmir and people of Kashmir after many centuries of prolonged suppression were also set free, but in a battered and divided state. It became the pinnacle of conspiratorial politics because of its strategic geopolitical location. Kashmir being at the crossroads of erstwhile wealthier trade routes and a buffer zone between two warring nations, separated on religious lines got entangled in the situation of war and hostilities. The biggest victim of this not so receptive atmosphere in the vicinity was democracy and our long cherished longing for social equality. Our forefathers had suffered a lot at the hands of autocratic tormentors. From Afgans, Mughals, Sikhs down to the era of Dogras, Kashmir and its people had never tasted even a brief spell of pleasure. After the revolutionary phase of 1931 to 1947 people of Kashmir had high hopes of being steered into an era of equality. Certainly, we ventured into an era of emancipation and equality. But alas! This proved short lived and orchestrated aggressive political situation within and around Kashmir along with its vulnerable geopolitical location made the situation worse.

Since 1947 along with historic political coup de théâtre of 1953 much political water has flown down the Jhelum and since then people of Kashmir have faced many political upheavals of greater magnitude and ramifications. Political status apart, the overall governance and social justice in Kashmir never flourished to the satisfaction of the civilized society. People of Kashmir possessed practical equality for a brief period of few years that too overshadowed by the euphoria of newly attained independence. Kashmiri people’s brave confrontation with tyrannical forces of Maharaja on 13 July 1931 became bedrock of Kashmiri resistance movement against oppression and many leaders were incidentally born out of this historic confrontation. 1931 episode ushered a new era in the empowerment struggle in Kashmir and the genesis of 1931 outburst lie more in longing for equality, impartiality and social justice rather than political desire, at that particular time. People of Kashmir were fed up of suppression and exploitative practices of Dogra rulers, their cronies and many so-called native elite who were otherwise virtual renegades, hand in glove with despotic Dogra rulers. Kashmiris were fighting a war for honorable survival and on July 13, 1931 it reached its climax. For the last eighty years 13th July the martyrs day is being exploited by every political entity to the best of their political use. The people and their progeny who were once instrumental in facilitating Maharaja’s abusive rule later also joined the exploitative bandwagon and thus exploitation of 1931 martyrs is going on brazenly.
The essence of democracy lies in equality, social justice and fairness; practically we are miles away from these desirable qualities of democracy. After 1947, over the period of time a unique domineering political class replaced the autocratic Maharaja’s rule and has resorted to same oligarchic practice of exploitation, nepotism and suppression of ideological opponents. It will be unfair not to acknowledge the existing freedom of expression and many other valued rights but these characteristics of democracy get dissolved in an atmosphere of exploitation, favoritism and oppressive society. A particular class of society has access to national wealth and resources and select few have contacts within the political and social system to excel in life, the rest all are left to fend for themselves in abject poverty and exploitation. It looks even after sixty years of yearning the true democracy is evading people of Kashmir and a self styled elite class is enjoying every bit of Kashmir’s true democracy. I hope my dearest democracy will kiss the banks of Jhelum, scale the pristine peaks and move in the lush green meadows of Kashmir in its real character, and will ultimately empower and emancipate all the people of Kashmir in its true shape.

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